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Creative Climate Network Awarded 100,000 Euros by KR Foundation to Tackle Greenwashing


The network grew organically as a response to industry professionals’ need to reskill to drive positive change at work

Creative Climate Network Awarded 100,000 Euros by KR Foundation to Tackle Greenwashing

Creatives for Climate, a global network arming communicators with the skills, resources and collective power to act for the climate, is becoming a global non-profit foundation and launching its first course. Recently awarded a 100,000 EUR grant from the KR Foundation, one of the world’s leading donors addressing the root causes of climate change, the network is now scaling its efforts to drive climate action within the creative industries.

Inspired by Extinction Rebellion’s rallying cry to the advertising industry in 2019, Creatives for Climate launched as a one-off summit organized by climate activist Lucy von Sturmer, founder of impact consultancy The Humblebrag. The network grew organically as a response to industry professionals’ need to reskill to drive positive change at work: 40% of marketers report that they lack relevant sustainability marketing qualifications, despite 76% of them having been involved in sustainability projects over the past five years. 

After more than two years of self-organization. Creatives for Climate is now a 3000+ strong global community that drives change by providing a “safe space” of knowledge sharing, collaborative learning and radical reskilling for industry frontrunners. To mark its growth from a project into a global non-profit foundation, Creatives for Climate will launch its first training programme -‘Greenwash Watch: How to design a sustainability strategi to deliver projects with impact’ an educational series launching at Cannes Lions this week as part of its 12 month action plan. 

One of many new tools to come, the Greenwash Watch course will empower creative professionals to build real strategies for change and push back on greenwashing at work. Designed by Sustainability Professor Gill Willson and facilitated live by Systems-Thinker Evva Semenowicz, the course spans seven modules from “selling the business case to the CMO” to “weeding out the greenwashing in a sustainability strategy”. 

Each module will see experts from academia, industry and grassroots activism equipping participants with the tools they need to create impactful campaigns that preserve the future of our planet.  Expert speakers include: Samuel Gosschalk (Greenpeace), Alex Weller (Patagonia), and Christian Smith (Zalando) 

Initiator Lucy von Sturmer says: “Many in the communication industry don’t have the skills to effectively communicate sustainability or, equally, to recognize and push back on greenwashing. With no regulation or widely accepted definition of terms such as ‘sustainability,’ ‘good’ or ‘impact,’ radical re-skilling is needed. Greenwash Watch invites academics, activists, brand strategists and sustainability exports to share their knowledge and challenge brands to really drive change - I can’t wait to launch our first cohort this Summer!

As a youth-driven network with a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, Creatives for Climate Directors include Lucy von Sturmer (New Zealand), Melissa Mbugua (Kenya) and Zoe Red (Netherlands). As part of becoming a new foundation, Creatives for Climate will use the KR Foundation grant to launch several new programmes and campaigns over the next 12 months.

Combining peer-to-peer training and collective action, Creatives for Climate is not only unleashing the potential of creativity to trigger peoples’ imaginations and stimulate the co-production of hopeful climate solutions, but also offering a much-needed critical lens to identify the industry’s central climate blind spots.

Through its expansion, Creatives for Climate plans to empower more creatives to make a difference in their work, giving individuals more ‘agency’ - a strong voice, a supportive community, and the skills to create change - before it’s too late.

Alex Weller, marketing director EU at Patagonia and longstanding advisor of the network, says: “We need powerful stories to reimagine society. Narratives of regeneration and restoration should lead us in our creative efforts to secure a better future. Communities like Creatives for Climate are a key part of driving this change forward.” William Skeaping - Extinction Rebellion, says: “Since 2019 when Extinction Rebellion protested at Cannes Lions, awareness of the climate and ecological emergency has increased globally. However, the misdirected strategic and creative expertise within advertising agencies, continues to greenwash and encourage carbon-intensive lifestyles. If activists getting arrested looks like just another marketing stunt for this cynical and toxic industry, I hope that Creatives for Climate can encourage real human understanding and build pressure for urgent change internally, while there’s still time.” Duncan Meisel - Clean Creatives, says: "The Creatives for Climate community is made up of so many passionate, talented leaders. There's no better place to bring a new idea like our How to be an Agency Activist guide, and figure out how to make it an even stronger tool to enable the climate transition." Melissa Mbugua, co-founder Africa Podfest, D&AD Jury Member, says: “The time has come for radically new ways of thinking and collaborating across the globe to rise up. Creatives for Climate is forging new networks that will shape the future and drive forward social and environmental justice”. Initiator Lucy von Sturmer, The Humblebrag, comments: “The biggest driver for launching Creatives for Climates was the need to hold myself accountable as an “‘impact strategist”’ advising clients on how to build their reputation in this space. What if my dream client turned out to be greenwashing? How can I stay alert to inconsistencies between their actions and words? How can I support them beyond just helping them to gain a competitive advantage in their positioning, but to drive actual meaningful impact in the world?”
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